Common law refers to law and the corresponding legal system developed through decisions of courts and similar tribunals, rather than through legislative statutes or executive action. The common law is created and refined by judges: a decision in the case currently pending depends on decisions in previous cases and affects the law to be applied in future cases. When there is no authoritative statement of the law, judges have to set a precedent. The body of precedent is called "common law" and it binds future decisions. In future cases, when parties disagree on what the law is, an idealized common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision (this principle is known as stare decisis). If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases, it will decide as a "matter of first impression."